Selling Your Starwood Vacation Network (SVN) Timeshare Resale

For this guide on Selling Starwood Vacation Network timeshares, RedWeek has teamed up with Don & Diane Nadeau, Broker/Owners of Timeshare Broker Sales in Tampa, Florida.

With the Nadeau's help, we'll explore the Starwood resale market and identify any obstacles or issues owners should consider when selling their Starwood timeshare, including:

  1. Determining What You Own
  2. Restrictions on Your Ability to Sell
  3. Resale Restrictions to Disclose to Your Buyer
  4. How to Price Your Timeshare
  5. Closing Costs, Commissions, and Fees
  6. Considerations for Doing it Yourself
  7. Types of Professional Assistance Available

Determining What You Own

The first step in preparing to sell your timeshare is to get all your paperwork in order, to know all the basic information about your Starwood timeshare ownership. Documents to gather include: your deed, purchase contract agreement, last maintenance fee bill, last tax bill, and any other assessments that may be outstanding.

Know how your names are shown on your deed, your home resort name, unit/week number, season, fixed or float week, annual or biennial usage, the first year your timeshare is available for use, and any banked StarOptions you are allowed to transfer with the sale.

You will also need to take inventory of any outstanding reservations or commitments you have, to be able to communicate effectively to your potential buyers what is available to them. Questions to answer regarding the current calendar year as well as the upcoming year:

  • Do you have any existing reservations?
  • Have you used, rented, or deposited/exchanged your week?
  • Did you convert your usage into StarOptions or SPG Points?

Program Summary - What You're Selling:

If you're putting your Starwood timeshare up for sale, you are selling a timeshare that is:

  • A week of ownership backed by a deed
  • A home resort with an exclusive booking window.
  • Owners at the six "Mandatory" resorts have StarOptions benefits, which allow an internal exchange to all other Starwood Resorts, and the StarOptions benefits transfer at resale.

Restrictions on Your Ability to Sell

You must be in good standing on your account and assessments before you market your timeshare for sale. If you have a loan balance, you will have to pay off the balance either with the proceeds of the sale, or out of pocket if the loan balance exceeds the net sales price after expenses.

Most resort developers, including SVN, have the "First Right of Refusal" (FROR). The buyer needs to be made aware that SVN has this option. Developers normally only exercise this option when they determine the price of the resale on the open market is a good bargain for the developer to buy back from the original owner. Buying back under-valued inventory on the resale market also enables developers to bolster their retail sales program.

In a typical transaction, brokers will forward a sales contract to the developer for review. SVN then has 30 days to exercise the FROR or waive it, allowing the resale to proceed.

Resale Restrictions to Disclose to Your Buyer

Starwood has two classifications of resorts - Mandatory and Voluntary. If you are selling a timeshare at one of the six Mandatory resorts, the right to use StarOptions will transfer with the resale, and the new owner can make reservations directly with SVN. If you are selling a timeshare at one of the Voluntary resorts, even though the name seems to imply there is a choice, your buyer will NOT be eligible for StarOptions benefits. Owners at Voluntary resorts who wish to exchange would need to use Interval International (II) to do so.

The six "Mandatory" resorts are: Westin Kierland, Sheraton Vistana Villages (Bella, Key West only), Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Westin Ka'anapali North, Harborside Atlantis, and Westin St. John (Virgin Grand Villas, formerly Hillside).

Mandatory resort sellers will need to note: banked StarOptions may transfer in the event of a will or deed transfer to an immediate family member only. Banked StarOptions do not transfer when ownership weeks are sold to other individuals. For additional information, refer to the SVN Web site.

How to Price Your Timeshare

You can test your timeshare's worth on many Web sites, including RedWeek.com, which offers the largest online marketplace for resales. Price will always depend on size of unit, view, location, season, and usage (annual or EOY). For Starwood owners, the allotment of points and home resort are the most important factors. Keep in mind, a quick check of prices on RedWeek.com will show what prices other owners are listing their timeshares for — but not necessarily what they sold them for. RedWeek's What's My Timeshare Worth tool will plot historical listing prices for each resort, along with actual sales prices, as available.

Owners can also use RedWeek MLS, a multiple-listing service RedWeek developed for Licensed Real Estate Brokers and Agents, to evaluate property listings. Brokers participating in the RedWeek MLS specialize in timeshare resales and have a strong feel for market pricing. They typically use their own resale histories and resources such as RedWeek.com and RedWeek MLS for guidance on pricing comparables. Keep in mind that listings in the MLS have the real estate commissions built-in to the pricing, so advertised prices may appear slightly higher than regular by-owner RedWeek postings.

Closing Costs, Commissions, and Fees

Closing costs will vary by state and price, as well as services and coverage provided. Costs included in a real estate transaction such as selling timeshare include (but not limited to): commissions, resort transfer fees, activation fees, estoppel and documentation fees, title transfer fees, title insurance (if applicable), stamp and tax fees, etc. Note: not all the fees listed apply to all timeshare resale transactions.

Typical closing costs for SVN average $900 - $1,200, with Hawaii properties ranging between $1,100 - $1,600. These costs are usually paid by the buyer, with the seller responsible for any commissions. Commissions vary, and are agreed upon between the listing broker and the seller in advance. There are exceptions in any real estate transaction, as the negotiation process remains fluid, so this information is for guideline purposes only.

Considerations for Doing it Yourself

Doing it yourself, as with the sale of a home, is cheaper, but more complicated. You can easily advertise your timeshare on your own, but once you find a buyer, the real fun begins.

You will need to prepare a sales agreement detailing the terms and conditions that have been agreed upon by the buyer and seller, detailing who is responsible for closing fees, find a closing company to set up escrow for the transfer of the funds, handle the right-of-first-refusal paperwork, and submit a request for estoppel from Starwood.

If you choose to do it yourself, RedWeek.com is the largest online marketplace for timeshare, with over 2.3 million subscribers. Memberships start at $18.99 annually, and you can advertise your resale for $59.99 for up to 12 months. You can advertise your points directly on the Starwood Vacation Ownership page (make sure to note your home resort), or add a resale posting directly to your SVN home resort's page (making sure to note the points allotment, if applicable).

Types of Professional Assistance Available

If you don't want to 'go it alone', then you should hire a licensed real estate broker/agent who specializes in timeshare resales. A licensed broker will conduct a background check on recent sales to determine what comparable timeshares have sold for during the past six months, set up your listing and distribute it on the MLS, perform the etoppel with Starwood, and arrange the best closing services.

Commissions vary by broker, and this amount will need to be discussed with you when you decide on the listing price for your ownership, and will be included in your listing agreement. You will not, and should not, pay any broker or agent a selling fee or commission until they have sold your timeshare.

Here are some options for finding a broker to manage this process for you:

  • RedWeek.com offers a full service resales program to its members. For $125 (versus the $59.99 regular posting), RedWeek builds your resale posting for you, validates your week through the estoppel process, and assigns a licensed real estate broker to assist in your pricing and contract negotiations. When your week sells, the broker charges a commission of $399 or 3% of resale price, whichever is higher, in addition to closing costs.

  • RedWeekMLS.com has a complete roster of brokers specializing in timeshare resales, and a Find a Broker feature to help make your search easier.

  • The LTRBA (Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association) can also help you with identifying brokers that can aid in your resale process.

  • Starwood Vacation Network has no timeshare resale program of their own, but does recommend the use of a licensed timeshare resale broker.

Special thanks to Don & Diane Nadeau for helping develop this Starwood Seller's Guide. Both are Broker/Owners of Timeshare Broker Sales, founded in 2005 with locations in Tampa and Orlando, Florida. They are members of ARDA and the LTRBA, with Don serving as a past Membership Chairman, and currently serving on the Ethics Committee. Diane, a licensed Realtor since 1992, is the Managing Partner responsible for all sales activity. The company is an A+ rated Accredited Business with the BBB. Don & Diane are also contributing members of the RedWeek Timeshare Expert Panel.